Bowflex Xtreme 2SE Home Gym Review

When it comes to excellence and reliability in home gym equipment, it doesn’t come much better than Bowflex. The Bowflex Xtreme 2SE has proven to be one their best selling full function home gyms. In this article we go in depth on the latest incarnation of the Xtreme – the Bowflex Xtreme 2SE.

What We Found

The Bowflex Xtreme 2SE is a compact, versatile machine that allows you to perform over 70 exercises. The transitions between exercises is fast and the resistance smooth and natural. This unit features the revolutionary no change system for faster nove3ment between exercises. This is the best Bowflex home gym on the market.

For those who don’t like the Bowflex power rod system we recommend the Total Gym XLS.

Key Features

  • 210 pounds of Power rod resistance as standard
  • 75+ exercises
  • Compact design
  • Heavy duty steel frame

The Bowflex Xtreme 2SE is the most versatile home gym to yet come out of the Bowflex stable, with provision for in excess of 70 exercises. This is more than other popular models, such as the Bowflex PR1000 and the Bowflex Blaze. Unlike with previous models, there is no fold down bench on the Xtreme 2SE.

Power Rod Resistance

The Xtreme SE2 provides you with 210 pounds of Bowflex power rod resistance. This is the standard resistance provision on most Bowflex home gyms. You have the ability to increase this resistance to either 310 or 410 pounds, but you will have to pay for the extra power rods. The power rod system’s big benefit is that it provides you with a comparable resistance to a free weight workout, but without the actual weight resistance to have to deal with. That makes for a gym that is much lighter and much safer to use.

The power rods allow you to go up in resistance by increments of five pounds. This is a big advantage as it allows for incremental progressive resistance. The power rod resistance system works in a similar way to a bow and arrow. That means that the resistance is not static, as is the case when you are lifting a barbell.

When you do an exercise with the power rods, the exercise gets harder as you progress through the repetition. So, if you are doing a chest press with 100 pounds set on the power rods, the first third of the movement will see you pushing around 30 pounds. During the second third of the movement, you will push the equivalent of around 80 pounds and during the final third of the move you will be pushing the full 100 pounds.

Exercise Range

The Bowflex Xtreme 2SE allows you to about 75 different exercises. This is about 10 more than the next most popular machine out of the Bowflex stable, the Bowflex Xceed. This allows you to do everything that would be able to do in a commercial gym right in the comfort of your own home.

The Xtreme 2SE provides you with a lat tower and an angled lat bar to provide you with the ergonomically ideal positioning to work the muscles of your back. You can do all of the big gym exercises on this machine, including squats, deadlifts and bench presses. A four position low cable station allows you to perform a full range of cable exercises to work your muscles from a range of angles. You can also perform leg extensions and leg curls on the Xtreme 2SE.

You can also purchase additional equipment to extend the exercise range even further. This includes a biceps preacher curl attachment and an ab curl attachment.

You can do a number of vertical bench exercises revolving around the Bowflex Xtreme 2SE. These include the vertical bench press, the rear delt press and the pec dec flye. Overall, this is one of the most complete exercise ranges that we have come across.

No Change System

The Xtreme 2SE provides you with a revolutionary no-change cable pulley system. This is a big deal as it allows you to move rapidly from one move to the next without any down-time. So, you can go directly from squats to bench presses to biceps curls without having to interrupt your workout, which allows you to maintain your pump and stay within your training heart rate zone.

Training Programs

The Xtreme 2SE comes with a very complete training manual. Included in this manual are seven workout programs as follows:

  • 20-minute better body
  • 20-minute upper body
  • 20-minute lower body
  • Bodybuilding
  • Circuit training anaerobic
  • True aerobic
  • Strength training

This demonstrates the versatility of the Xtreme 2SE. It can be used to work your body from a strength, muscle building or cardiovascular emphasis – or all three at the same time.

Solid Construction

As with everything that comes out of the Bowflex factory, the Xtreme 2SE is a high quality product. It is constructed from heavy duty steel framing that will ensure that you are always working from a solid, secure base. The power rods themselves are extremely strong, so you will not have to worry about them splitting or breaking.

The seat on the Xtreme 2SE is well padded, comfortable and stylish. It is covered in the familiar red and black which is emblematic of the Bowflex brand. Heavy duty polyurethane foam ensures that you are correctly positioned ergonomically while being as comfortable as possible. The seat is also completely adjustable to allow you to customize you exercise positioning.

The Xtreme 2SE also provides you with a five way adjustable grip. These grips are regular grip, non-grip cuff, foot cuff and shoulder cuf

Compact Design

The Bowflex Xtreme 2SE is an amazingly compact piece of home gym equipment in view of the huge range of exercises that you can do on it. You will need a workout area of just 8′ x 6.5′ to do everything that this machine has to offer.


Bowflex provide you with one of the best warranties that we have com across in the home gym market. You get a 7-year warranty on the frame and cable system. As far as the power rods go, you get a lifetime warranty. That means that f you have any problems with the power rods – ever – they will replace them – no questions asked. That’s pretty impressive.

What We Didn’t Like

One thing that the Bowflex Xtreme 2SE doesn’t include is a DVD that shows you how to use the system. The Bowflex power rod system is very different to what people may be used to, so it would have been good to have seen a complete tutorial run-through. In addition, workout videos that fully demonstrate every move would have been an advantage.

The Xtreme 2SE arrives unassembled. The manual gives you guidance on putting it together, but the assembly process is quite complicated and will take a few hours of your time.

The power rod system provides you with a completely different feel to conventional barbell, dumbbell and cable weight machine exercise. The big difference is that you do not get resistance during the negative part of the exercise. For example, when you are doing a chest press, you will get resistance as you push away from your body. However when you return to your starting position you will get no resistance at all. This is a major disadvantage. Research has made it abundantly clear that a large portion of the muscle and strength building benefits of resistance training comes from the negative part of the rep.

The Bottom Line

The Bowflex Extreme 2SE is the most impressive home gym to yet come out of Bowflex. It provides you with the most exercises, the fastest change between exercises and the most durable, comfortable machine. However, the system of resistance upon which the Extreme 2SE is based – the power rod system – is not for everyone. It feels quite different from traditional weight training and does not provide negative resistance.

With that in mind, you should definitely try the system before you buy. If it works for you, then the Bowflex Xtreme 2SE is the machine for you. If not, here is an alternative home gym that you might consider purchasing. You can also check out our Best Home Gym article for a bunch of best rated home gyms.

Bowflex Alternative: Total Gym XLS

Image of the Total Gym XLS – Universal Home Gym for Total Body Workout

The Total Gym XLS is the top of the line model from Total Fitness, who are about as familiar and trusted on the home fitness scene as Bowflex. The Total Gym system uses a slant board, cables, a ladder and your own body as the basis for an exercises resistance system that is just as versatile as you get with the Bowflex Xtreme. You can do more than 80 exercises on the Total Gym XLS, which is a little more than the Xtreme provides.

The resistance, of course, is totally different between the two machines. Whereas the Xtreme provides its classic power rods, the Total Gym XLS makes use of bodyweight resistance. This provides a more natural feel to those who are used to working out with weights and does include resistance on the negative part of the each repetition (which you don’t get with the Bowflex system).

The Total Gym takes up a similar working area to the Bowflex Xtreme when in use. However, it can also be folded up for storage when not in use, which is not the case with the Total Gym. Your purchase comes with some very good DVD back-up material, which includes a number of workouts ranging from beginner to advanced level. You also get a handy full color exercise wall chart.

The weight capacity of the Total Gym XLS is 400 pounds.

The Final Word

The Bowflex Xtreme is the top of the line model in the Bowflex stable. It provides the most exercises of any of the Bowflex power rod based home gyms. Its biggest point of difference, however, is that it introduces the revolutionary no change system, which allows you to rapidly move from one exercise to the next so that you can maintain the pace of your workout. For those who don’t like the feel of the Bowflex power rods, the best alternative is the Total Gym XLS.


Leave a Comment